Charities seek banquet funds
The Genesis Social Welfare Foundation is appealing to the public for donations to help fund year-end banquets it plans to hold for the homeless and the poor this month. Genesis, which is staging the events along with the Huashan Social Welfare Foundation and the Zenan Social Welfare Foundation, on Sunday said it is missing more than 50 percent of the funds the organizations need to host the 15 banquets they have planned for Jan. 23. The banquets are expected to provide meals for 26,000 homeless, elderly people living alone and impoverished single-parent families. About 1,000 additional volunteers are also needed to serve the people attending the Taipei banquet, the groups said. The groups are also asking people to donate sleeping bags and winter clothes for the homeless and the needy. Members of the public can call (02)2835-7700 to make donations or register to become volunteers.
Tainan to host drum fest
Greater Tainan is gearing up to once again host a five-day international drum festival that will enable the public to enjoy a boisterous Lunar New Year holiday, the organizers said. The festival will feature seven percussion groups from Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and South Korea, according to Taiwan’s Grammy-nominated Ten Drum Art Percussion Group (十鼓擊樂團), which is organizing the festival along with the Greater Tainan Cultural Affairs Bureau. Nobushi of Japan, NADI Singapura from Singapore and the South Korean traditional percussion group SLAP are among those slated to perform at the event. The drumming expo will be held from Jan. 31 until Feb. 4 at the historic Eternal Golden Castle.
Sunspots to stay till Sunday
A large group of sunspots are expected to remain visible to the naked eye until Sunday as solar activity peaks, the Taipei Astronomical Museum said yesterday. The sunspots are to be one of the most noticeable solar events since mid-2012, museum official Chang Kuei-lan (張桂蘭) said. Coded AR 1944, the sunspots are spread over an area 25 times bigger than the Earth’s surface and should remain visible for the rest of the week, before rotating away from the planet, Chang said. The emergence of large sunspot populations occurs when the sun enters a period of increasing magnetic field turbulence, which can lead to large eruptions of charged particles that form dark dots as seen from Earth. The best times to see the spots are early morning and late evening when there is not much sunlight. Sungazers should use solar filters instead of ordinary sunglasses to protect their eyes, she said.
Battling shrimp disease
A university yesterday unveiled a technology that allows shrimp farmers to identify a deadly bacterium. Co-developed by National Cheng Kung University in Greater Tainan, the technology enables farmers to test within a day for the bacterial disease that has swept several Asian countries since 2009, causing huge losses. Baby shrimps with the disease, dubbed “early mortality syndrome,” display symptoms about 10 days after being released into aquaculture ponds and soon afterward die in large numbers, said Lo Chu-fang (羅竹芳), head of the university’s College of Bioscience and Biotechnology, who led the research team. The research team said it is offering the technology free to shrimp farmers around the world.
Students set for US trip
Twelve students are set to depart for the US next week, where they are set to interact with their US counterparts and discuss the science of coral reefs. The “coral reef ambassadors” and their 13 chaperones were chosen by the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium in Pingtung County to represent Taiwan. They are set to visit San Diego, California, from Jan. 17 to Jan. 29. Teachers and students said they hope the visit will equip the young ambassadors with knowledge of different cultures and inspire them to boost awareness of marine conservation in the future. This is the second year the museum has been selected under the Museums Connect grant program, an international collaboration scheme administered by the American Alliance of Museums.
Condoms, tampons going online
Taipei-based shopping Web sites will be able to sell condoms, tampons and body fat monitors online for the first time by the end of the week following revisions to national regulations, Taipei Food and Drug Office official Chiu Hsiu-yi (邱秀儀) said yesterday. Changes were announced by the Ministry of Health and Welfare to the Classification and Registration Requirements of Mail-Order Purchase for Medical Devices (藥商得於郵購買賣通路販賣之醫療器材及應行登記事項) on Thursday last week. The new regulations allow pharmacists to sell the items, classified as class II medical devices, online and via mail-order. Online shopping sites said they are waiting for the green light after sending in their applications to the Taipei City Government following the announcement.